Wis­dom by the Week: The Week­ly Torah Por­tion as an Inspi­ra­tion for Thought and Creativity

Naf­tali Rothen­berg, ed.
  • Review
By – May 24, 2012
The Torah is the foun­da­tion of a vast and com­plex lit­er­ary expe­ri­ence span­ning over two mil­len­nia. Per­haps the only sin­gle link in this long his­to­ry is the actu­al text itself. To under­stand this com­plex­i­ty, the aver­age read­er would have the daunt­ing task of explor­ing mul­ti­ple com­men­ta­tors whose writ­ings span cen­turies.

With the pub­li­ca­tion of Wis­dom by the Week, Rab­bi Naf­tali Rothen­berg pro­vides an intro­duc­tion to this rich and diverse tra­di­tion, which has been the hall­mark of the Jew­ish peo­ple for near­ly 2,000 years. To accom­plish this goal, Rothen­berg invit­ed writ­ers from across the intel­lec­tu­al and reli­gious spec­trum to write their own com­men­tary on a week­ly por­tion of the Torah based upon one or more of their favorite com­men­taries. The result is a rich expo­sure through the eyes of con­tem­po­rary schol­ars to the writ­ings of both the well-known and the rel­a­tive­ly unknown who lived in com­mu­ni­ties across the globe and whose per­son­al cul­ture high­ly influ­enced the way in which they under­stood the text.

To expe­ri­ence Wis­dom by the Week as a week­ly com­men­tary opens one’s eyes and mind to this tra­di­tion in a new and excit­ing way. Clear­ly, com­ing to the text each week, as I have done over the last few months, pro­vid­ed an oppor­tu­ni­ty to expe­ri­ence first­hand the deep spir­i­tu­al think­ing that cap­tured the minds and hearts of our peo­ple through­out our long his­to­ry in the Dias­po­ra. The text teach­es us that we are and will remain a diverse peo­ple with dis­parate ideas, strug­gling to under­stand who we are and how we can improve the world in which we live. 
Paul A. Flexn­er, Ed.D., is an Instruc­tor in Edu­ca­tion­al Psy­chol­o­gy at Geor­gia State Uni­ver­si­ty, a vet­er­an of 35 years as a Jew­ish edu­ca­tor and a mem­ber of the Board of Direc­tors of the Jew­ish Book Council.

Discussion Questions